Safety in the playground is of the utmost importance. While many factors contribute to a child’s safety when playing, the playground’s surface is crucial. The wrong surface can lead to a higher risk of injuries and accidents. Ideally, you want a surface that provides ample cushioning but is still strong and durable enough to withstand hours of playtime a day.
With that in mind, what is the safest surface for a playground? There isn’t a definitive answer as three options present themselves as the best:
- Poured-in-place rubber
- Bonded mulch
- Artificial turf
If you’re wondering which one might be the best option for your playground, read on to learn why they’re all extremely safe surfaces to consider.
Poured-in-place rubber is a rubberized material that’s directly poured into the ground. When in place, it sets and hardens, creating a seamless surface with no cracks or edges. The surface is constructed using rubber granules and mixing them with a binder. It’s incredibly cost-effective, but why is it such a brilliant option for kids’ playgrounds?
Well, one of the biggest advantages of poured-in-place rubber is that it can provide excellent cushioning for falls from up to 10 feet above the ground. As 79% of all playground injuries involve falls, it’s vital to have a surface that prevents injuries.
Moreover, the seamlessness of the surface means you don’t have any cracks or slightly raised edges that can cause trip hazards. Therefore, this material actually prevents a lot of playground incidents from happening.
As if that wasn’t enough, the way this surface is constructed means it drains exceptionally well. This reduces standing water and means the playground surface is less slippery, which also prevents many accidents.
Overall, you’ve got a playground surface that’s incredibly safe, yet very durable and cost-effective. It ticks all the right boxes and can be used on the floor or as part of climbing walls and rubber slides.
Bonded mulch – or bonded rubber mulch – is a hugely popular playground surfacing material composed of 100% recycled shredded rubber. It gets its name as the surface resembles mulch, but is made entirely from rubber. As a result, it boasts some unique properties that make it a safe option for playground areas.
To start, bonded mulch has brilliant shock-absorbing properties and can cushion falls when children slip over. It reduces the chances of a child suffering a fracture or serious injury, meaning most falls result in the child brushing themselves down and getting back to playtime.
Of all the playground surface properties, it is perhaps the softest. Not only will it cushion falls, but it’s also unlikely to lead to grazes or cuts. Despite the soft nature of this material, it is still highly durable. It can easily live up to the daily wear and tear of playground activities without needing constant maintenance.
Much like the previous option, this one is also installed without cracks or bumps. Again, this adds to safety by creating fewer chances for children to trip and fall over.
While bonded rubber mulch is massively popular and safe for playgrounds, it’s often used in conjunction with other surfaces. Many playgrounds pour rubber mulch around the climbing apparatus, which is largely considered the most dangerous piece of equipment out there. As such, shock absorption helps to limit injuries if children fall off the apparatus.
The final option is artificial turf, which adds a nice splash of greenery to playground settings. It is designed to replicate real turf but is made using a variety of plastics to create a grass-like surface. Infill materials – like EnviroFill – are then used to provide an extra layer of cushioning to the turf.
What makes artificial turf one of the safest surfaces for playgrounds? Well, it meets the Critical Fall Height Attenuation Requirements outlined by ASTM. This means it has been tested and proves that it provides cushioning for falls from certain heights. It also provides a soft surface for children to land on, meaning scratches or grazes are highly unlikely to happen.
One key thing that sets synthetic turf apart from natural turf is that it’s waterproof and weather resistant. When it rains, the water filters through the turf and drains away, stopping it from becoming extra slippery. The absence of soil also means you don’t get muddy areas that are extremely hazardous and cause devastating falls. In the winter, you don’t have to fear cold temperatures and frost anymore. If your playground currently has a grassy surface, it can become rock solid and dangerous all through the cold months. Synthetic turf is weather-resistant, so it won’t frost over when the temperature drops.
Another key problem with grass is that it isn’t very durable. Normal turf will likely become matted and ruined after a week of play. It doesn’t stand up well to constant footfall, but artificial turf does. It lasts for much longer and is unlikely to wear down. When regular turf starts wearing down, the surface becomes a lot harder, which presents more risks – there’s no need to worry about that here.
Combining All Three Playground Surfaces For Optimal Safety
As mentioned before, all three of these surfaces can be considered the safest around. They all score very highly when it comes to shock absorption and cushioning. Each one is installed without room for gaps or cracks that can lead to trips or slips.
Instead of deciding which one to choose, you should consider applying all three of them throughout your playground area. Poured-in-place rubber is a brilliant option to use across most of the playground. But, you can add in some artificial turf here and there to create greener areas and add more life to the setting. Bonded mulch is best used to accent the other surfaces or to place under particularly dangerous playground equipment.
Contact Custom Park Surfacing Today
If you are interested in selecting a safe and durable playground surface for your community’s playground, we recommend contacting Custom Park Surfacing. Their team of experts can help you choose the right combination of playground surfaces, including poured-in-place rubber, bonded mulch, and artificial turf, to ensure optimal safety and fun for children. Don’t wait any longer, contact Custom Park Surfacing today to get started!